‘Sorry Mate I Forgot I Saw You’ crashes

smidsy sorry mate crash

Riders aren’t just common victims of SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I didn’t See You) crashes, but could also be the victims of SMIFISY.

It stands for “Sorry Mate I Forgot I Saw You” and it’s been discovered by a University of Nottingham study into crashes where drivers failed to give way to motorcycles.

The info researchers call it “Saw But Forgot” It should be calle SMIFISY!

Basically they say drivers see riders, but their short-term memory forgets.

The result is they pull out in front of the rider, resulting in a crash, often with dire consequences for the rider.

The uni researchers said drivers are five times more likely to forget seeing a motorcycle than a car.

Sorry studies

There have been many other scientific studies into this sorry phenomenon with several different reasons (excuses) provided.

The Alliance of British Drivers produced the following video which explains one of the scientific  principles of SMIDSY called saccadic masking.

In another study, a Texas Tech University psychologist found that people think smaller objects – such as riders – are further away than they appear and, conversely, that bigger objects are closer.

Other reasons/excuses for the sorry phenomenon is that motorcycles present less of a threat to a driver, it is more difficult to gauge approaching speed of a small vehicle and drivers just don’t care about the lives of “deathwish” riders.

New study

This latest study has the ungainly title “The ‘Saw but Forgot’ error: A role for short-term memory failures in understanding junction crashes?” and is published in Californian non-profit science and medicine research hub PLOS One.

smidsy sorry mate crash
One of the research authors wearing head-mounted eye-tracking glasses identifies the pole and rider

It found that drivers are distracted between when they notice the motorcycle and when they decide to pull out with 15% forgetting they even saw the bike.

In 180 simulation experiments, participants failed to report a car three times but failed to report a motorbike 16 times, despite looking directly at them on 11 of those occasions.

“Drivers were more likely to forget an oncoming motorcycle if they had made several head movements between looking at it and the subsequent memory test,” the report found.

Research spokesman Dr Peter Chapman suggests that drivers say out loud the word “bike” when they see a motorcycle approaching to strengthen their memory and stop it being overwritten by their brain.

“If relevant visual information is encoded phonologically (that means spoken out loud) it has been shown that it is no longer subject to visuospatial interference,” he says.

image: wearing the head-mounted eye-tracking glasses

11 Comments

  1. I think this is a load of very dangerous BS leading to provide alibis for a lot of dangerous drivers who don’t care. Ask yourself, why are there so many SUV’s on metropolitan roads? How many actually go off road? I suggest many of the SUV purchases are really about ‘Me too’ – sheep following sheep and the ‘Might is Right’ mentality. It’s a jungle out there – survival of the fittest mentality where whether the authorities want to admit it or not – some drivers DELIBERATELY don’t want to see bikes and some drivers DELIBERATELY turn in front of bikes because they know the bike rider will try to avoid a collision. I ride a bike and a scooter. I’ve had incidents on the bike but nothing like what happens on the scooter – that’s when some of the real personality disorders come out to play – even had one female so upset with me being able to filter she sped to overtake me and then tried to cut me off and run me into the kerb. For anyone who doubts what I am saying Richard Hammond did a Top Gear segment based on the premise that English drivers try to intimidate micro car drivers. The undeniable proof of the ‘Might is Right’ mentality existing was shown on Top Gear. Substitute a motor bike for a micro car or worse still a scooter and you expose a problem that the authorities don’t have the guts nor integrity to address. The old ‘I forgot I saw you’ sounds like BS – is BS – and wouldn’t be out of place on Get Smart – ‘Sorry about that Zigfreid, I forgot I saw you’ – Yeah right – anyone who tries that one on should have an immediate loss of licence.

  2. Some of the blame also needs to be put on the car manufacturers, and the law makes. The “A” pillar in my car can hide a semi trailer if I don’t look properly, and often. Thick “A” pillars are required by Australian Standards for rollover protection, and some drivers just don’t understand that.

  3. Riders need to be seen as people who embrace proper research findings not dismiss them as “a load of crap”. Comments like that say more about the commenter than the researcher. Clearly there is a genuine, neurological phenomenon here. Let’s join those looking for solutions.

  4. That’s why I always put a big airhorn on my motorcycle. If I think the driver hasn’t seen me I give it a blast and they think they’re about to be t-boned my a prime mover. The banshee airhorn can also be linked to strobe your headlight when you hit the horn.

  5. What a load of crap. In terms of seeing a rider and not giving way, your short term memory would have to be so short it’s ridiculous!!! The time it would take for all that to occur would be just mere seconds. If a driver is forgetting that quickly then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive!!

    1. ” If a driver is forgetting that quickly then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive!!”
      exactly what he said. Let the driver say that in court & let the Lawyers rip him/her/it to shreds.To constantly put that statement to the Offender & to the Magistrate, to pound this ‘excuse’ to make it worthless is the way to end this pitiful sorry excuse.

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